Irish CFOs wary of Brexit dangers

Business, Economy | Fri 10 Jun | Author – Business & Finance
London Rain Keith Ellwood

Over half of Irish CFOs (58%) believe that a Brexit would negatively impact their business according to the latest European CFO survey from Deloitte.

Just 6% of Irish respondents believe a Brexit would have a positive impact on their businesses, while 23% believe it will have little or no impact.

Across Europe overall, the political environment continues to worry CFOs. Perceptions of uncertainty have risen, cost control remains a top business priority and appetite for risk is diminishing.

Uncertainty is particularly high in Ireland with 52% of CFOs reporting high financial and economic uncertainty.

Despite these uncertainties, Irish CFOs remain optimistic about the prospects of their own companies with 45% of CFOs more optimistic than they were six months ago. Ireland leads the way on hiring across Europe, with 68% of CFOs forecasting an increase in job numbers (up from 55% in our last survey).

Deloitte has collated the results of surveys run by its member firms in 17 European countries for the Q1 2016 European CFO Survey, giving the views of 1,490 CFOs.

25% of CFOs say they are more optimistic about the financial prospects for their company than they were three to six months ago, unchanged from the third quarter of 2015. CFOs in Sweden have overtaken those in Ireland as the most optimistic, with 62% more positive.

Spain (47%) and Ireland (45%) report the second and third highest levels of optimism. Portugal saw the largest drop in sentiment across all countries, down from 47% in Q3 to 30%.

However, CFOs remain upbeat about their companies’ revenues, with 63% expecting revenues to increase over the next 12 months.

Perceptions of uncertainty are highest in Germany, with 93% of CFOs reporting high levels of uncertainty, followed by the UK (83%) and Russia (72%).

The lowest levels of uncertainty are seen in Norway, where 24% report high uncertainty, Sweden (37%) and Belgium (49%).

CFOs in Germany, Portugal, Turkey and the UK cited national and international political factors as their top concerns.

68% of Irish CFOs forecast an increase in job numbers (up from 55% in Q3), followed by Italy (54%, up from 43%) and Spain (46%, unchanged).

Alan Flanagan, partner at Deloitte Ireland, commented: “While optimism has declined amongst Irish CFOs, they are broadly confident in their own organisations despite uncertainty around the approaching Brexit referendum and the political uncertainty that arose from the recent general election.”

He continued: “Despite a weak appetite for risk, Irish CFOs show a willingness to invest in capital expenditure and a particularly strong outlook for hiring. However, while a positive outlook for revenue growth prevails, almost half of Irish CFOs do not anticipate growth in operating margins, driving a focus on cost control and reduction.”

Photo: Keith Ellwood